Of counsel comp in big law? Forum

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Of counsel comp in big law?

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Mar 21, 2024 11:14 pm

What are the most common compensation arrangements for big law lawyers who are of counsel? Are they paid on a per-hour rate? What rate? And/or originations?

Is of counsel a role with significant comp (say, 400k+) and flexible, part time hours?

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Re: Of counsel comp in big law?

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Mar 22, 2024 7:25 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2024 11:14 pm
What are the most common compensation arrangements for big law lawyers who are of counsel? Are they paid on a per-hour rate? What rate? And/or originations?

Is of counsel a role with significant comp (say, 400k+) and flexible, part time hours?
I can’t comment specifically about compensation, but of counsel is an ordinary full time position, unless you work out a specific alternative arrangement. But if you do, comp will be reduced accordingly.

There are some of counsel folk who are sort of de facto part time, but these are usually people who have some other significant gig (often some kind of legislative role) who find it helpful to maintain a connection to a firm.

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Re: Of counsel comp in big law?

Post by Anonymous User » Sun Mar 24, 2024 12:24 am

That’s generally correct. If you’re a 40 to 65 year old with a very specialized skill set and/or the right connections, a part-time job paying 400k a year is eminently possible. (This seems to be most common in niche regulatory or government-adjacent roles.) But if you’re just trying to be a litigator or corporate lawyer and work less than you would as a partner, this is probably not a realistic outcome.

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Re: Of counsel comp in big law?

Post by nealric » Mon Mar 25, 2024 3:19 pm

Part of the reason why the "of counsel" title exists is so law firms can handle lawyers who don't directly fit into the partner/or associate box, and that includes on compensation. The compensation model is going to depend largely on your role in the firm. A few examples:

1) If you are an associate who was recently up for elevation, it's probably just going to be permanent senior associate pay. Any "part time" arrangement would likely be on similar terms as an associate seeking the same.

2) Some firms still use this title for semi-retired partners. Those likely use some formula based on hours billed and originations. I've also seen this with experienced lawyers who have their own book, but that book doesn't tie well to the firm's normal billing rates (my old firm did this with an election lawyer who couldn't charge anywhere close what the typical M&A partner charged so didn't really make sense under the partner compensation model).

3) Some firms use this for what are essentially outside consultants (often people like law professors). Those likely have hours billed arrangements depending on how sought after they were. I'm sure someone like Marty Ginsburg (famous tax lawyer married to Ruth Bader) had a pretty hefty hourly rate, but a typical law professor probably a lot less.

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Re: Of counsel comp in big law?

Post by Wanderingdrock » Mon Mar 25, 2024 4:21 pm

nealric wrote:
Mon Mar 25, 2024 3:19 pm
Part of the reason why the "of counsel" title exists is so law firms can handle lawyers who don't directly fit into the partner/or associate box, and that includes on compensation. The compensation model is going to depend largely on your role in the firm. A few examples:

1) If you are an associate who was recently up for elevation, it's probably just going to be permanent senior associate pay. Any "part time" arrangement would likely be on similar terms as an associate seeking the same.

2) Some firms still use this title for semi-retired partners. Those likely use some formula based on hours billed and originations. I've also seen this with experienced lawyers who have their own book, but that book doesn't tie well to the firm's normal billing rates (my old firm did this with an election lawyer who couldn't charge anywhere close what the typical M&A partner charged so didn't really make sense under the partner compensation model).

3) Some firms use this for what are essentially outside consultants (often people like law professors). Those likely have hours billed arrangements depending on how sought after they were. I'm sure someone like Marty Ginsburg (famous tax lawyer married to Ruth Bader) had a pretty hefty hourly rate, but a typical law professor probably a lot less.
My firm uses "of counsel" for all of these, as well as:
4) A trial period before elevation to partner. (And sure, the year or two before you're promoted to counsel is also kind of a trial period, but counsel performance metrics are different from senior associates' so the incentives more closely align. In other words, being of counsel allows you to use your time and title to develop business more effectively than when you're an associate.)

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nealric

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Re: Of counsel comp in big law?

Post by nealric » Mon Mar 25, 2024 6:22 pm

Wanderingdrock wrote:
Mon Mar 25, 2024 4:21 pm
nealric wrote:
Mon Mar 25, 2024 3:19 pm
Part of the reason why the "of counsel" title exists is so law firms can handle lawyers who don't directly fit into the partner/or associate box, and that includes on compensation. The compensation model is going to depend largely on your role in the firm. A few examples:

1) If you are an associate who was recently up for elevation, it's probably just going to be permanent senior associate pay. Any "part time" arrangement would likely be on similar terms as an associate seeking the same.

2) Some firms still use this title for semi-retired partners. Those likely use some formula based on hours billed and originations. I've also seen this with experienced lawyers who have their own book, but that book doesn't tie well to the firm's normal billing rates (my old firm did this with an election lawyer who couldn't charge anywhere close what the typical M&A partner charged so didn't really make sense under the partner compensation model).

3) Some firms use this for what are essentially outside consultants (often people like law professors). Those likely have hours billed arrangements depending on how sought after they were. I'm sure someone like Marty Ginsburg (famous tax lawyer married to Ruth Bader) had a pretty hefty hourly rate, but a typical law professor probably a lot less.
My firm uses "of counsel" for all of these, as well as:
4) A trial period before elevation to partner. (And sure, the year or two before you're promoted to counsel is also kind of a trial period, but counsel performance metrics are different from senior associates' so the incentives more closely align. In other words, being of counsel allows you to use your time and title to develop business more effectively than when you're an associate.)
My old firm used to do that too, but compensation was pretty much just senior associate (all associates got a 10% origination bonus anyways).

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